Big upsets earn this week's nods for best performances
AP Photo/Deborah Cannon
Player of the Week: Brian Roberts, Dayton
By Andy KatzLast week: 31 points on 10-for-17 shooting (5-for-8 on 3s) and five assists in an 80-55 win over No. 6 Pitt Brian Roberts becomes the first two-time Weekly Watch Player of the Week this season for his dominating performance in an 80-55 win over an injury-riddled Pitt team. Roberts scored 31 points and put together another stellar effort against a Big East team. He also earned player of the week honors after he scored 28 points in a win at Louisville on Dec. 8. Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said Roberts is easily one of the top shooters in the country, and it's easy to see why. He's shooting 49.3 percent on 3s (37-of-75) and 50.3 percent overall, which is outstanding for a perimeter player. Dayton (11-1) already has two wins over Big East teams -- one on the road and one at home -- and two more true road wins at Holy Cross and at Miami (Ohio). But we'll know a lot more about the Flyers within the first three weeks of the A-10 season with games against Rhode Island, UMass and at Xavier in three of the first four league games. Dayton's win over Pitt means that the Flyers are primed to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, barring a complete collapse in the A-10.
Team of the Week: Wisconsin Badgers
Andy KatzLast week: Beat No. 9 Texas 67-66 in the Erwin Center Michael Flowers' 3-pointer to beat Texas -- on a day the Badgers learned they would be without their starting guard Trevon Hughes because of an ankle injury -- was the most significant shot in Saturday's action. The win for Wisconsin may ultimately be an NCAA Tournament-entering victory. Wisconsin lost at Duke, fell to Marquette at home and beat two teams -- Colorado and Georgia -- that have nice-sounding names but aren't heading for the NCAAs. So, the Badgers were in desperate need of one win against an NCAA team. Beating Texas in Austin assures them of having an impressive win on their NCAA résumé. Now, the trick will be to win games in the Big Ten that they should win if they are a true contender. Starting out at Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, at Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan and at Purdue before facing Indiana in Bloomington on Feb. 13 sets up the Badgers nicely if they can play to their potential. If they win games they should in the Big Ten, then the win over Texas will matter on Selection Sunday.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Pitt lost Mike Cook (ACL) and Levance Fields (eight to 12 weeks with a broken foot) in nine days.
By Reggie RankinScouts Inc.'s Reggie Rankin takes a look at two upsets that could happen this week:
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Jeremy Pargo has game-breaking ability, but he was just 1 of 7 from the field against Tennessee.
First-year Utah head coach Jim Boylen has installed one of the best team defensive packages in the country from his days as an assistant at Michigan State under Tom Izzo. The Utes are improving steadily, and the "five players guarding the ball" defensive philosophy is the foundation. On offense, the inside-out attack is built around 7-1 center Luke Nevill, who gets multiple touches on the block and leads the Utes in scoring and rebounding. The perimeter is controlled by guards Johnnie Bryant and Tyler Kepkay, who both can light it up from 3-point land to stretch the defense and give Nevill room to work. The well-traveled Zags are coming off an exhausting loss to Tennessee in Seattle on Saturday. Center Josh Heytvelt is back from ankle surgery and improving rapidly as he had 12 points in 24 minutes against the Vols. Guard Matt Bouldin dropped 21 points and kept things close for a while, but even he had been nursing a calf pull and sprained ankle recently. Jeremy Pargo has game-breaking scoring ability and will need to be ultra-aggressive, along with skilled freshman Austin Daye, to hold off the Utes. Utah beat a good California team in Berkeley and Idaho State on Dec. 27 to run its record to 8-3, which should provide confidence as it heads to Spokane. • Wednesday: Kent State over North Carolina, ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
In five years as head coach, Jim Christian has had five 20-win seasons. Even though the Golden Flashes have quality wins over Saint Louis and George Mason, going to Chapel Hill to tangle with the Tar Heels is another level. UNC will apply relentless pressure defensively. The Heels use great ball pressure and force the ball handlers, especially on the wing, into a baseline trap. After made baskets and timeouts, the half-court run-and-jump trap can start North Carolina's game-breaking run, especially in the Dean Dome. Tyler Hansbrough is a scouting report headache, and point guard Ty Lawson is a one-man fast break. But the Golden Flashes are a tough-minded defensive team, and they do a great job of taking care of the basketball, which they must continue to do to have any chance. If Kent can make the Heels play more in the half court, shoot contested shots, and keep a body glued to Hansbrough on the boards, the game could get interesting. Kent forwards Mike Hall and Haminn Quaintance handle the bulk of the scoring and rebounding, and Al Fisher produces double-figure points on the perimeter. Is it possible to catch UNC looking ahead to the ACC opener on Sunday against Clemson on the road?
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Boston College's Tyrese Rice is a scoring point guard who leads the young Eagles.
The loaded Jayhawks go to Chestnut Hill for a major test against the BC Eagles. Kansas sophomore forward Darrell Arthur leads five double-figure scorers. KU excels in the open court with guards Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson. On the wings, Brandon Rush and Rodrick Stewart are the high-rise finishers. In the half court, they Jayhawks attack with a variety of ball screens and high/low post-ups for forward Darnell Jackson and center Sasha Kaun. On defense, Kansas opponents have trouble handling the pressure man that is keeping them under 60 points per game. BC will counter with four double-digit scorers of its own, with scoring point guard Tyrese Rice leading the charge. The Eagles' flex offense has been perfected by head coach Al Skinner. Strong post-ups for forward Shamari Spears and down screens for freshman guard Rakim Sanders and forward Corey Raji -- who both have been major contributors from day one -- give BC a chance to shake up the rankings. • Saturday: Washington over No. 4 Washington State, 10 p.m. ET
The Huskies will attempt to get their transition game in high gear when they open Pac-10 play at home against intrastate rival Washington State. In the half court, UW depends on double-double forward Jon Brockman to be its go-to guy. Guards Ryan Appleby and Justin Dentmon, along with Venoy Overton, do a good job of sharing the ball and making sure Brockman gets plenty of post feeds when they can't pick up an easy fast-break basket. The Cougars will attempt to slow the tempo and allow their man defense -- which is holding opponents to under 50 points per game -- to prevent easy baskets. On offense, guards Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver direct the motion offense and make sure that center Aron Baynes and forward Robbie Cowgill get rewarded with touches. If the Huskies can put together a couple of timely runs and make Washington State play from behind on the road, I like their chances.
Dayton rocks Pitt at home
Flowers' late 3 drops Texas in a thriller
ESPN.com's Mid-Major Top 101. Butler
5. Rhode Island
8. Illinois State